>A Bit of a Rant

>Firstly, this is nothing at all to do with publishing, writing, editing or anything even vaguely related. So, if you only stop by her on occasion to hear about that sort of thing, you might want to wander away now.

But I just had to get this off my chest (a “grumpy old man moment”, if you like).

Things that don’t do what they are designed to do.

How many things have yo bought that simply do not perform as expected? Whether it be the can opener that opens cans so badly you are in danger of ripping your finger on the jagged edge, or the nail clippers that can’t cut through the smallest of nails, or (my current rant) the vacuum cleaner whose belt snaps the minute anything gets caught in the brushes (no matter how quickly you switch it off).

All three of these are personal to me recently. Of course, every one of these has been a cheap purchase (though, of course, that’s relative: a Ford car is cheap compared to a Rolls Royce, but you don’t hear anyone saying “Well, you should have bought a Rolls” when your Ford breaks down, right?), but whether something costs a pound, or fifty pounds, or fifteen thousand pounds ought to be irrelevant. Does it, simply, perform the task it claims to perform?

I know the next response: take it back to the shop, get a refund (the Sales of Goods act protects you from items which are “Not fit for purpose”). It’s not that simple: is it worth returning the one pound nail clippers? If not, where do you draw the line? If it’s not worth the effort of returning a one pound item, what value item is worth returning? And, so long as you don’t return the one pound clippers, the shop will keep selling them and the factory will keep making them.

My vacuum cleaner, subject of a few Twitter rants this morning, actually has a label on it which says “DO NOT RETURN TO THE SHOP. Call the Helpline.” Really, that should have rung alarm bells right away but, in fact, it appeared to work very well. At first. Since then, however, I have spend more money on replacement drive belts that I spent on the actual cleaner. And it had to have a new brush bar after less than six months. And it needs another new one now, at just two years old.

So, buy a new one, right? Of course, but that’s another £50 (for a cheap one) or £300+ (for a decent one) and no guarantee it will be any better. Price does not always equal quality. Well known brands are not always better.

Our fridge/freezer was replaced recently after four years of pain. It was a reasonably quality brand, but we lost endless fridge/freezers worth of food because of a major design flaw (the frost-free freezer would ice up, meaning the fan – which kept the fridge cool – would be unable to turn). A bit of research – after the event – made it clear this is a common fault, but the company is still selling the same (as far as I can see) design. We replaced it with 2, cheap, separate items.

I could go on and on, but I won’t.

I won’t name the fridge/freezer manufacturer here, since I’m not qualified to speak of the design fault (though I’ll happily mention it be email if asked). Suffice to say, we recently replaced a washing machine by the same manufacturer because that failed to perform to expectations too. We still have a dishwasher, and that’s faulty.

The vacuum cleaner? That one I will name, since it’s fault is clearly demonstrable (and I’ve already named it on Twitter): It’s Vax.


One Comment to “>A Bit of a Rant”

  1. >In the UK, the retailer has a legal responsibility to deal with faulty goods.Doesn't matter what label they put on it, you simply go back and make a fuss.With a bit of luck they'll simply replace the item, and not play the "well, we can send it off for you, but it might take forever" card.Depends on the store, of course. A certain electrical retailer was charged internally if they sent things back or exchanged anything, and those costs came off of any bonus the store was paid, so it was at a human level the problem existed. By being nice to the customer, you could well be costing yourself your Xmas bonus.Having said that, there's an entire weird service culture issue; I find it quite astonishing that it's cheaper to buy replacement Dyson parts from someone other than Dyson. How does that work, at all?But you are quite right.There comes a certain biting point where the gain from getting it sorted costs more (in time, money, fuel or whatever else is involved)I'm (to the point of irritation with my family) quite capable of making a stand over a relatively trivial amount, but even I would baulk, for example, at returning something to a poundshop.The comment about cars is interesting. Someone in work recently replaced his older-than-the-Ark Corsa, which had a value little above the cost of the fuel in the tank, with a brand-new something else, thanks to the scrappage scheme.I asked why he felt the need to replace something which he had long since paid for with something he'd be paying the loan for for years.His response? It's more reliable and will cost less in repairs.Now, this is very true, I'm sure. It has a warranty, and all the parts are new.But….no matter what car you buy new, surely it costs, over a given period of time, more than the repairs on anything like a corsa?I asked. His last MOT took 200 quid to get through. Yet he's paying more than that a month for the next 3-4 years.So, the issue doesn't seem to be that shops/suppliers are evil extortionists, but that consumers can be, quite frankly, moronic.

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